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Google. Amazon. Walmart.com—These aren’t the first places that people think of when planning a funeral service. But more people are shopping online for cremation urns.
David Thompson lives in Carson City, Nevada, and he buys a lot of stuff on Amazon. Recently, he bought an urn a few days before his wife passed away. He was looking for a wider selection than what the funeral home offered.
“To be honest, I was really glad to be home, near my wife, while I was going through this process of finding her cremation urn,” he says. “The one that I chose just jumped off the computer screen and told me essentially that, ‘This is the right thing. This matches your wife’s personality'."
Cremation has become commonplace. Two years ago, 43 percent of Americans were cremated. By 2017, it’s expected, there will be more cremations than burials.
In Traverse City, Michigan, Stardust Memorials has built its entire business around selling cremation urns online. Owner Jordan Lindberg started the company four years ago, after his father got sticker shock while looking for an urn for his grandmother.
“I wasn’t interested in selling any kind of normal product, anything that you’re likely to find when you go into Target,” he says.
Potter Phil Wilson is molding clay into an urn on the wheel. He and Gretchen Palmer of Spinner Ceramics are creating a line of ceramic urns for Stardust Memorials.
Palmer says the handmade aspect offers a personal touch. “These are not made by a machine. They're all made by hand by Phil, with glazes that he mixed and he designed,” she says. Neither potter said they would purchase a cremation urn online. But the new work has made family members think about their final wishes.
“When I told my mom and her husband what I was doing, they were like, ‘Oh, I wonder what color urn I would like.’ I was like, ‘Mom, seriously?'," she says.
Stardust Memorials did $1 million in sales last year, and expects to double that this year.